NFL Week 9 Previews

After a great 8-2 Saturday, Sunday's a bit of a letdown. Blue Ribbon splits with Carolina & Detroit. Our Closed Circuit Game of the Week looked on the way to a win in Philadelphia, before a bad penalty allowed the Colts to eke out a late cover. And our other Closed Circuit game of Kansas City was closing in on a win before Oakland rallied on the final drive to win in overtime. A tough ending to an otherwise profitable weekend and we're ready to top it off with a Monday Night Winner tonight!

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THE NFL WEEK 9 MENU IS CHOCK FULL OF ROAD FAVORITES - AND WE ASK WHETHER THE SAINTS, JETS & CHARGERS CAN GET "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" ON SUNDAY ... OUR NFL WEEK 9 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS ARE HERE!

By Jim Hurley:

Wonder if you happened to give this NFL Week 9 card a good/long look:

You might have noticed that there are actually more Road Favorites than Home Favorites on the menu (seven road chalk-eaters as compared to six home favs) and now you can question whether that's more a product of Super Bowl-hungry teams playing away (see the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets and even the San Diego Chargers) or whether that's more in line with who's at home this weekend ... see the likes of the rotten Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns, for example, as three such teams taking home points in some other Week 9 games.

The bottom line is last week there was only one road favorite in the NFL - the Miami Dolphins (-1) at Cincinnati - and that was only have some real 11th-hour money moves that pushed the Fish into the chalk role. Now, all eyes are on the teams that are "supposed to win" in enemy territory and we'll get to a trio of those teams shortly plus we'll feed you a Sunday Night Preview as downtrodden Dallas ventures into Lambeau Field for a bash with the born-again Green Bay Packers.

NFL STUNNER
It's been the year of the dog in the NFL, but the public still doesn't get it, as they foolishly bet favorites and the linesmakers have no choice but to set the lines based on that money. It's fine with us, because the public has really missed the mark on this one, where another dog is set to pull the outright upset. This is a play that grades out strikingly similar to last week's two big dog plays--one was the Bills (+7) over the Chiefs where we easily got the cover and nearly pulled the outright win in a 13-10 overtime game. The other way was the Buccaneers (+3) over the Cardinals which cashed in a 38-35 outright W! Get on board for this game!Take the points and get the sure win...or if you're bold step out and bet the moneyline. Whatever you do, bet this one big!
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NFL WEEK 9 KEY PREVIEWS

NEW ORLEANS (5-3) at CAROLINA (1-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Guess the big question the defending Super Bowl champion Saints are asking themselves these days is whether or not they feel "challenged" when playing one of the NFL's weak sisters?

In last Sunday Night's 20-10 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints showed their '09 moxie by forcing a pair of key fourth-quarter turnovers and don't forget that first-half goal-line stand that might wind up being this team's defining moment if/when they get to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington.

Sean Payton's crew has lost games this year to 3-point underdog Atlanta and 6 ½-point home pup Arizona and who can forget that humiliating 30-17 loss versus 12 ½-point underdog Cleveland just two weeks ago - in the don't-come-easy world of these here-and-now Saints this game in Charlotte could be a problem.

Hey, just remember that N'Orleans needed every ounce of energy to topple these 13-point underdog Panthers 16-14 back in Week 4 play inside the Louisiana Superdome. There were lots of sweaty palms on the Saints' sideline in that clash.

The Saints have not swept a season's series from Carolina since 2001 - they needed three PK John Carney field goals to douse the Panthers back in early October - and here QB Drew Brees (2,334 yards passing with 16 TDs and 11 INTs) will look to carry over the momentum from last week's aforementioned win against Pittsburgh when he completed 34-of-44 aerials including going an eye-popping 20-of-22 after intermission.

Note that the Saints have their bye next week and then come off the idle weekend with a home game versus Seattle - maybe we're right in the midst of a real run here but New Orleans fans this year know better than to count their chickens too soon!

P.S., the Panthers will start Matt Moore at quarterback here as rookie Jimmy Clausen hits the pine once again.

Spread Notes - New Orleans is just 2-5-1 ATS (against the spread) so far in this 2010 campaign but did you realize the road team is a rollicking 15-5 versus the vig in the last 20 head-to-head battles between the Saints and the Panthers? Carolina enters this NFC South clash at 2-5 spreadwise this season and overall John Fox's squad is 36-21-1 ATS as pups since the start of the 2003 season.

NEW YORK JETS (5-2) at DETROIT (2-5) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
No ands, ifs or buts about it ... this has been the biggest soap opera season in New York Jets history and we're only halfway through the regular season!

The Jets pulled down plenty of negative headlines following last Sunday's ultra-drab 9-0 home loss against the 6 ½-point underdog Green Bay Packers and everyone wanted to know why the J-E-T-S got away from the ground game on a day when the New Meadowlands Stadium winds were really howling.

Maybe folks would not have been asking that question had the over-the-top hyped Jets receivers held onto QB Mark Sanchez's passes as WR Jerricho Cotchery dropped three balls and WR Santonio Holmes botched what figured to be either a long gainer or a touchdown as he failed to bring in a well-thrown ball.

Sanchez wound up tossing two INTs in that loss to an NFC North foe - he finished last weekend's game having completed 16-of-38 passes for 256 yards - but now everyone's clamoring for bigger/better results here inside the climate-controlled Ford Field but has it dawned on anyone that it's the Lions who possess the best offensive playmaker on the field here?

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (38 receptions and 8 TDs) has been a regular staple on the highlight shows all year long and here he figures to be engaged in one of the best one-on-one matchups of the year as the Jets are expected to put fully healthy CB Darrelle Revis on Johnson and than keep him there.

Under-the-radar key for the road-favored Jets here is can red-hot PK Nick Folk save their hide when drives stall in Motown territory?

Note that Folk is 13-of-16 on field goals this year and that includes a 5-of-5 performance back on Oct. 11th against Minnesota.

Spread Notes --  The Jets are 5-2 versus the vig overall this year and a very healthy 12-4 ATS dating back to late last season and "gang green" has covered both of its road favorite affairs this year with wins/covers in Buffalo and Denver. Note that Detroit enters this interconference clash having split their last dozen spread verdicts against AFC teams the past three years (this is the Lions' first game this year against an out-of-conference opponent).

    
SAN DIEGO (3-5) at HOUSTON (4-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe the $64,000 question is do you - or don't you - still consider the SD Chargers a viable Super Bowl contender?

Sure, the losing record might be a dead giveaway that the window's been slammed shut on the SB hopes of this west coast club but let's not forget some of the tremendous regular-season winning streaks this franchise has posted in recent seasons - including 11 consecutive wins just last year before hitting that AFC Divisional Playoff speed bump against the New York Jets - and so maybe last week's gutty 33-25 win/cover against 6-point pup Tennessee was the beginning of something really big ... we'll see!

The Chargers would love to bag a "W" here and then head into next weekend's bye with lots of positive momentum plus knowing that four of the teams' next five games are at home including AFC West showdowns against Denver, Oakland and Kansas City (in that order).

In this clash against the up-and-down Texans, look for San Diego slinger Philip Rivers (an NFL-best 2,649 yards passing with 15 TDs and 7 INTs) to test a secondary that last Monday Night couldn't even handle a bunch of backup pass-catchers in that 30-17 loss at Indianapolis.

Rivers threw for 305 yards and two TDs in the above-mentioned win against the Titans last weekend and could hit 400-plus passing yards here if he continues to get superior pass protection. If you don't hear the name of Houston DE Mario Williams too often here, than the 3-point favorite Chargers could well be going up and down the Reliant Stadium field at will.

Spread Notes - The SD Chargers are a pitiful 0-4 against the odds as betting favorites this year while losing games in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis. Note that the Bolts have not covered a road game since that 42-17 crush job of Tennessee last Christmas Night in Nashville. On the flip side, Houston is just 2-4-1 versus the vig overall this season and the Texans have failed to cover their last three consecutive home games this season (against Dallas, the NY Giants and Kansas City).

On Sunday Night, it's ...
DALLAS (1-6) at GREEN BAY (5-3) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Everyone keeps talking about 1989 when it comes to these here-and-now Dallas Cowboys:

After all, that's when this franchise finished 1-15 right before their dynasty began with three Super Bowl crowns within a four-year span - wish we could tell you the future's gonna be real rosy for the 'Boys in 2011 and beyond but the reality is this club could get busted up at the end of this current campaign and here QB Jon Kitna (3 TDs and 4 INTs in relief of injured QB Tony Romo) better hope he's not busted up by game's end.

After all, the Packers have cranked out 24 quarterback sacks this year - that's third-best in the league - to go along with 12 interceptions and now Green Bay comes off its first shutout win in 20 games as last Sunday's 9-0 blanking of the Jets featured more pressure from LB Clay Matthews and some dynamite secondary play from last season's NFL Defensive Player of the Year CB Charles Woodson.

If the Packers can surprise the beleaguered Cowboys O-line here with some well-disguised blitzes - and you just know defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been staying up late at night with his pad and pencil - than Kitna could wind up tasting Lambeau Field turf much of this November night.

On the flip side, Green Bay's offense has some things to prove after not scoring a touchdown last week - PK Mason Crosby's three FGs was it - and note that WR Donald Driver (his 28 catches are second-best on GB) won't play here because of a quad injury.

Hey, the Pack ain't saying this for public consumption but they have not been thrilled so far with the play of QB Aaron Rodgers (2,011 yards passing with 12 TDs and 9 INTs).

Spread Notes - Green Bay's a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 against the odds this year but the Packers are a solid 7-4-1 ATS as hosts since the start of last season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are a dismal 1-6 spreadwise this season and did you know this NFC East crew is a rotten 8-15 ATS in all road games dating back to late in the '07 season?

NFL WEEK #9 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS

Let's go 'round the league and get you our Jim Sez NFL Week #9 Pointspread Tidbits with all figures below against the spread:

  • The Baltimore Ravens are 13-7 spreadwise in their last 20 homes games;
  • The Buffalo Bills have failed to cover five of their last seven games against NFC competition;
  • The Cleveland Browns are 11-3-1 overall since the middle of the 2009 season;
  • The Indianapolis Colts are 33-18-2 when playing outside the AFC South in recent seasons;
  • The Kansas City Chiefs own a sparkling 8-2 spread mark in their last 10 trips to Oakland;
  • The Minnesota Vikings are 11-6-1 as betting favorites since the start of last season;     
  • The New York Giants are 28-12 away since the start of the 2006 season;
  • And the Tampa Bay Bucs have covered 11 of their last 17 spread verdicts against Atlanta;
        

NOTE: Get our Monday Night Football Preview - that's the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Cincinnati Bengals - plus all the NFL Week 9 and College Football weekend roundups in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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